In the first of a series of articles, Michael Daddo of the Shannon Company shares some insights into what makes a great brand, what you can do to build it, and where to get really good pizza.

Most of us growing up in the 90s will remember the Huggies TV ad backed by the adapted classic Madness hit ‘It must be love’.

It’s a memory that sticks. And for me, it’s all about the connection built between the product and people viewing it. Connection. It’s the vital factor behind why some brands thrive and others fail, which begs the question of is there a magic formula for getting it right?

Well, to paraphrase the great Australian social researcher Hugh Mackay – the challenge for brand marketers isn’t to make people feel good about your brand, but for your brand to make people feel good about themselves.

In Hugh’s words: “Michael, it’s like falling love. Yes it’s wonderful how you feel about your partner, but isn’t it wonderful how it makes you feel? That’s what great brands do – they make you feel better about you, they make you feel special.”

How true. 26 years ago, my team and I equated Huggies to the best expression of love a mother can have for her child – it made her feel that she was being the best mother she could be.

A simple expression of It Must be Love and the 1992 classic by Madness, set to beautiful images of mother and happy baby reciprocating love – the ultimate emotional connection was made.

But, did it sell? My word it did. Just like the hit tune, it rocketed to number one in the sector, knocking the leading global competitor out of the market within 12-months. And it’s still the number one nappy brand in the market today.

And if you’re wondering how a nappy selling campaign applies to your business, trust me, it does. It may manifest itself differently, but it does.

Great pubs, retailers, fashion labels, car makers, computer companies, sports apparel – all know and continually work on how it makes me, the customer, feel when I use their brand. It’s fundamental to their success.

Here’s an everyday example. My favourite pizza place is Ciao Bella in Balnarring on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Fabulous. Every time I go there with family, we’re warmly greeted like good friends. Its simple, lively atmosphere is like a favourite piece of clothing. The service is great, and the food is wonderful.

So how do I feel? Great, special, welcomed, and looked after. Sure, it costs a bit more than other pizza places, but the experience and feeling the customer get makes it worth it. You want to go back again.

The team at Ciao Bella Pizza showcase arguably the most fundamental part of successful brands; one which is eloquently noted by Christopher Bailey, Chief Creative Officer and mastermind of global fashion label Burberry:

Michael Daddo
Michael Daddo of the Shannon Company.

“Rule 1. A good product – there’s no point in having all the extra trimmings without something solid at the centre of the business”

It’s obvious and it’s a fundamental truth – great, enduring, trusted brands are built from bloody good product and services at the chosen price point. These are the fundamentals, and they must be done well.

This is non-negotiable, as my pizza place knows and delivers in spades – bloody good pizzas.

Think Apple, BMW, Mercedes, Facebook, Omega, Penfolds. The list goes on. Brilliant products and services that make me feel special, in control, secure, smart, cool – whatever it is that they do – they make me feel good or better about me.

“Rule 2. An experience – what would add value and context to that central focus, making existing customers feel special and attracting new ones?”

Simply put, make customers feel great about their decision to choose you.

So there you have it. The first two questions to ask of yourself on the path to building an enduring valuable brand.

So go ahead, challenge yourself and ask: How do my customers feel after engaging with my brand?

And keep on asking it. As newly crowned Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan noted, “…the times they are a changing”. So we must continually work hard at understanding our customers and the details they demand to keep them feeling special.